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Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

Simmer Peaches in Butter

During our stay at Zion we fired up the “dutchy” for some classic cobbler, we use this pot a lot for all kinds of meals, but what we call cowboy cobbler is one of our favorites.  With larger groups we use the coal top 12 qt. 12″, for this batch it was just Tori and I so we used the smaller Lodge chicken cooker / skillet combo, this smaller set is one of our many cast iron pots and about the right size for two peoples travels.  Even at home most meals are cooked in cast iron, from small 4″ singles to 12″ family sized.

For this round of cobbler we started with a bunch of white peaches.  These are a bit firmer than the normal variety that most people see.  We got these fresh in Page on our way up to Zion.  When cooking out of season we often use frozen peaches or berry mixes for this recipe, we even did a tropical version once with some mango.

After slicing and pitting, we softened them up a little with a simmer in some butter, 1 stick worth,  this recipe is not for the dieting types. When we use frozen fruit this simmer step is skipped, and the butter gets added on top of the fruit.  Next we add a box of Jiffy cake mix, here we used yellow, but white works great too.

Add the Cake MIx

The next step is the baking, which is the hardest part. We usually make this dish as a desert after a dinner and often struggle with waning light and full bellies.  This round here at Zion we opted for Breakfast Cobbler, what better way to fuel a days hiking eh? The mornings still had a touch of chill to them so the fire was a welcome addition.  The trick to great campfire cooking is to keep the heat even, the simmer step preheated the pan and a few coals on top and a rotation or two will keep the hot spots away.

Cooking in the fire-ring

One nice thing about the chicken cooker/ skillet combo is that you can check the progress with out any “tools”.  Mitts or heavy gloves are required as the cast iron will be at oven temps so caution is required.  When we use the big “dutchy” I have to lift the lid with a pry bar to check cooking progress, that lift can be a little tricky if your coals are off balance.  This batch came out very nice with touch a crispy on one side.  Cooking time was about 15 minutes…but varies depending on preheat and the quantity of coals used…here practice will help.  Not to worry, some of our first batches were a little on the done side but were still consumed with vigor.

Done to Perfection

Tori likes lots of cake in her cobbler while I prefer a more balanced mix.  For larger batches we sometimes will use two boxes of cake mix, to keep it moist more butter is needed.  This batch had a nice balance of fruit and cake.

Balanced Cake and Fruit

Its not your typical bacon and eggs breakfast, or your healthier granola and yogurt…but it is made with real fruit…and for a big day of hiking the calories will soon be a memory.  The only trouble is deciding who gets the wash the pan.

Cobbler Gone!

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Cedar Plank Salmon...Done to Perfection

A number of years ago we were introduce to Cedar Plank Salmon at a neighbors.  They had enjoyed this dish at a restaurant and then tried it at home.  Since then we have had it more times than I can count, and each time it has bestowed its smokey goodness to us.

The recipe is quite simple and I have shared it with friends on a number of occasions.  I have even seen “kits” available in some stores for those without imagination.  The “kits” consist of a wimpy 3/8″ plank of cedar and a small bag of spices, mostly salt.  I use cedar in many of my carpentry projects from time to time, and usually have a few scraps kicking around.  So instead of dropping $12 for a kit…that has $1 worth of wood and 10 cents in spices.  I nab a scrap board  from the shop.  It is common cedar (western red) 3/4″ thick, depending on the former project it can be from 4″ to 8″ wide.  If the boards are too narrow to support the fillet  I use two boards side by side.

The first step is to cut a piece of wood that will fit the fillet, I normally do this with the band saw.  The next step is to soak the board.  I fill the sink with about 3-4″ of hot water and place  our filled plastic water pitcher on top of the plank to submerge it.   Soak the plank for about 20-30 minutes, after the plank is soaked,  place the fillet on the wood and set it on the grill.  I like to have the plank extend about an inch beyond the fillet….bigger fillets needs bigger planks…..  The grill has been preheated for 5-10 minutes and is now at about 50%.  Sometimes I use a teriyaki marinade or spice rub but mostly just the plain fillet.   Once on the grill close it up and let the magic begin.  Its necessary to keep the lid closed, this allows the smoke to work its wonders and keeps it from flaring up.

The photo above was shot just before it was  removed from the grill.  With the lid up the extra oxygen causes the plank sides to burst into flames…smoke is good flames are not.  I have also used a spray bottle to limit flare ups too, keep an eye on it.  As some larger fillets will need a longer cook time, the plank can get pretty cooked.  The fillet above was an average size and fed both Tori and I.  Cooking time about 15 minutes.  The inside stays moist and the the smoke provides a nice caramel color.

For a side dish we had slices of tomatoes that were topped with Dublin Cheddar and broiled, we often dress those with a dash of Balsamic Vinegar and pinch of sea salt.  Avocados add a third dimension to the flavors.

Ready to Eat

Sometimes we will have Cedar Plank Salmon on a Caesar Salad, as we do with our grilled chicken.  I hope to try this with some chicken some day…but will need to keep a close eye on cooking time.  Under cooked salmon is Sushi…under cooked chicken is Salmonella.   Some people have also used this method with other woods (apple, hickory, Mesquite) but with cedar scrap handy this has been our primary route.

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I packed up the Christmas tree last week…and saved the blue lights for another project..I’ll post soon on that.  We fell in love with the Giant Blue Tree a few years ago.  It is a huge 60 foot tall monster that was completely covered with just blue lights, it is part of the annual light show at the Denver Botanic Gardens…last year they did not have it due to some construction projects and this year we did not get a chance to head down.  Tori had a bout with pneumonia for Christmas and gave me a good cold to boot.  We did not miss it so much since we had our own mini version right in the house.  I found a deal of some blue LED Christmas lights so we got to have a “blue Christmas”

Our own Blue Tree

Also last week I got to play with a new cookbook I got just after Christmas…its all Thai, and I worked up a few dishes since then.  The other day I made a green curry with coconut milk, fresh peppers and shrimp….it was great over the rice noodles but still my favorite has to be the panang curry beef I made when I first got the book….I used some boneless beef ribs and they were so tender they melted in your mouth.

Green Curry Shrimp with Peppers

I just got back up from the shop, continuing to oil the 6″ T&G for the cabin.  I have about 210 lf sanded and oiled with 5 coats….still have the other 210 feet to sand yet.  I could not get it all sanded as I had 300 lf of trim I’ve been working on for client still in the shop, I delivered it Friday,  and I start to install that next week.  Once this final coat on the T&G is dry I can rack it aside until it is time to take to the cabin…Its going to look Sweet!…There is a nice mix of blue stain, clear, and reddish.  It was  a great deal at 41 cents a foot…and I’m looking forward to getting another 400 feet or so for starting on the walls at the cabin.

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